Young People Not in Education, Employment, or Training (NEET): how to support them

Young People Not in Education, Employment, or Training (NEET): how to support them

News article from May 29, 2018

Our Safeguarding Manager, Daniel Jarrett, writes about why young people might become NEET (Not in Education, Employment, or Training) and how to best support them. He also outlines a case study from his own experience.


A recent briefing paper released by the UK government in March 2018 reported that 794,000 young people aged between 16 and 24 were not in Education, Employment, or Training (NEET). Other reports have shown that periods spent NEET can increase the risk of young people experiencing mental health issues as well as increasing the risk of future unemployment, low wages and lower quality of life. Of the regions in England, the North East had the highest percentage of NEET young people (14%) and the South West had the lowest (9.4%), with London having 10.4%.

In 2007, legislation was brought in that guaranteed young people aged 16 and 17 an offer of a place in education or training regardless of the qualifications achieved during their GCSEs. There are also a range of bursaries, funds, and advice portals that young people can access to support them in continuing in education, employment or training.

A report by the UK Audit Commission in 2010 looked at the risk factors that increased the chances of young people becoming NEET and these included:

– Being NEET at least once before

– Pregnancy or parenthood

– Involvement with a Youth Offending Team

– Substance abuse

– Difficult family circumstances

– Responsibilities as a young carer

– Low education attainment at GCSE (this can be due to SEN, poor health, lack of motivation)

– Lack of provisions in the local area

A study was completed in West Yorkshire in 2014 by Young Lives that involved engaging with 315 young people to explore their views on the barriers faced in accessing education as well as the effects they experienced of being NEET. The young people interviewed identified the effects below of being NEET:

– 42% experienced stress/anxiety

– 29% experienced depression

– 25% rarely left the house

– 15% drank too much alcohol

– 8% self-harmed

The young people interviewed also identified what they felt as the main reasons they found it difficult to access education or employment:

– 58% felt their lack of experience affected their job opportunities

– 40% of young people thought their skills and qualifications were “not good enough”

– 35% lacked confidence

– 12% felt their learning difficulty or physical disability affected their access to opportunities

– 9% felt prejudice or discrimination was the main reason they were NEET

Case Study

Charlotte had just turned 16 when I began working with her. She had been excluded from secondary school and had been attending a local alternative provision for 2 years.

Her attendance was very poor, around 30%, and she was expected to achieve 2 qualifications on leaving the provision and was therefore at high risk of being NEET. Her behaviour in school was also a real concern as she was sometimes physically and verbally violent towards staff.

Charlotte’s mum was unemployed and had never been in employment. She was struggling to manage Charlotte’s behaviour at home and this was affecting her ability to parent her younger daughters as well. Charlotte had been previously diagnosed with ADHD but was non-compliant with her medication. Both Charlotte and her mother were open to support and I immediately referred Charlotte back to the local CAMHS service for a review, as well as requesting a new assessment to ensure her needs were being met.

Charlotte’s self-esteem was low and she lacked confidence that the future held opportunities for her. Work was completed with Charlotte around increasing her confidence and I organised visits for her at several external organisations and work establishments to expose her to the opportunities and support available. I also referred Charlotte to the local Raising Participation Age Team and ensured she had an allocated worker who would be assigned to Charlotte until she was 19.

Alongside this, I accompanied Charlotte and her mum to CAMHS and a review of her medication was completed. As a result, Charlotte agreed to comply with her medication to see if it helped for the final few months of her education at the alternative provision. The CAMHS specialist also advised family therapy for Charlotte and her mum as well as referring Charlotte’s mum for Non-Violent Resistant (NVR) Training (a form of systemic family therapy which has been developed for aggressive, violent, controlling and self-destructive behaviour in young people). Charlotte’s mum was referred to a local service that provided support around CV development and accessing volunteer opportunities. Within a few months, she began a computer course and was hoping to begin volunteer work once this was completed.

Through regular encouragement and careful monitoring, Charlotte’s attendance and engagement in her education improved and she was successful in completing her final coursework and exams. Charlotte also realised she had an interest and skill in hairdressing and was successful in gaining a place on an apprenticeship scheme at a local academy. Charlotte was also referred to undertake the Fairbridge Project with the Prince’s Trust to ensure she was engaged in self-confidence building and skill raising activities over the summer.

I supported Charlotte and her mum in ensuring she attended the first few months her apprenticeship and was then able to step back from involvement. Charlotte’s confidence and self-esteem increased as a result of her believing the future held opportunities for her and, at case closure, she was confident that she could move forward independently.


Young people at risk of being NEET will continue to face barriers in their future unless they are given the right support to ensure they are aware of the opportunities available as well as ensuring their needs are understood and responded to. Evidence shows that young people who are NEET are at a greater risk of experiencing mental health issues as well as being unemployed and on lower incomes in later life. There are a range of different organisations available for young people to access as well as a wealth of different courses, apprenticeships and training schemes that respond to different skills sets and learning styles.

Further Resources


Working in the most disadvantaged parts of the UK, Groundwork help people to create better places, to improve their prospects and to live and work in a greener way.

The Prince’s Trust

The Prince’s Trust is a youth charity that helps young people aged 11 to 30 get into jobs, education and training

UK Government NEET 2018 Briefing Paper

Young Lives NEET Report

Young London Working

Young London Working work proactively with companies that are recruiting and want to engage with unemployed young Londoners

Back to the list of news articles